Pai Gow Poker is a popular game in many Asian countries, including the Philippines. This variation of the game poker is also known as double-hand poker and originated in China. Pai Gow has been on the gambling market since the 1980s and has since remained a favorite for many. However, unlike its original version, Pai Gow Poker doesn’t use Chinese dominoes but cards instead.
There are numerous online casinos in the Philippines that offer this game both for free and for real money. Moreover, some casinos even have double-hand poker on their live platforms where you can play against real dealers. In addition, just like other popular casino games, you can play Pai Gow Poker on the go from your mobile. Read our comprehensive guide to learn where and how to play.
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The Transformation of Pai Gow Poker
Although Pai Gow Poker borrows its name from the traditional Chinese domino game, it is among the most recently invented table games. Its ancient domino predecessor has been around since 960 AD. In that version, up to eight people could pick four dominoes from a pile of face tiles.
But the brain behind the modern Pai Gow Poker as we know it is Sam Torosian. His intention in designing this game was to catch the attention of Asian gamblers and get them to play at his Bell Card Club. He loved the idea of hand setting as soon as he learned about Chinese poker from his Filipino accomplices. He introduced the game to his club but it did not perform as expected.
Later Torosian rented part of his room to a renowned inventor by the name of Fred Wolf. Wolf worked with him to make adjustments to the game. To fit the American market, the playing cards were reduced from 13 to 7. They introduced the game to the casinos in California which then spread to the rest of the world. Because of the relatively low risk and easy play, Pai Gow Poker remains very popular today.
In Pai Gow Poker your objective is to get a better hand than the dealer, which is similar to poker hands. Here is what the various possible combinations are and how they rank from highest to lowest:
- Five of a kind – 4 aces and a joker.
- Royal flush – 10, J, Q, K, and A from one suit.
- Straight flush – 5 sequential cards from one suit.
- Four of a kind – 4 cards with the same numerical value.
- Full house – Any 3 same ranking cards and another 2 same ranking cards.
- Flush – 5 cards from the same suit but not in a sequence.
- Straight – 5 consecutive cards but from different suits.
- Three of a kind – 3 same value cards.
- Two pair – 2 cards of the same rank plus 2 other cards of the same rank
- One pair – 2 cards with the same rank.
- High card – Any other combination.
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How to Play Pai Gow Poker
Although in many poker variants you play against other punters, with Pai Gow Poker it’s you versus the banker. Moreover, this game can host up to 6 players and the goal is, of course, to beat the banker. This is done by forming two poker hands after placing your bet.
Initially, you’ll receive 7 cards which you can split into one five-card and one two-card hand. The most important thing to remember is that your top hand must never be greater than your bottom hand. So after setting your hands, the dealer will reveal them together with those of the banker’s. From here there are three possible outcomes:
- The player wins both hands and the bet;
- The dealer wins both hands but the player loses the bet;
- Both the dealer and the player win one hand each. This is called a push.
Strategies and Tips to Win
Pai Gow Poker already has a low house edge of around 2.6% but you can do a few things to land more frequent wins. Here are some of the ways to increase your payouts:
- Start by setting the two-card hand as high as possible while leaving a higher five-card hand.
- Always split two pairs unless you have an ace or 2 pairs of 6 or below.
- Play the highest pair when handling 3 pairs.
- Play the bonus bet to get an extra wager.
- If you get a full house, break it up to improve your odds of winning.
- When you have 3 pairs in your 7 cards, you should pick the highest card of your two-card hand.
- If you get 3 of a kind, play with your five-card hand except when there are 3 aces.
Playing Pai Gow Poker Offline vs. Online
Playing Pai Gow Poker in a land-based casino and online is more or less the same. However, going online comes with a set of perks you won’t get otherwise.
Most importantly, online gaming comes with the major benefit of being able to play whenever and wherever. Especially with mobile-friendly platforms, you could enjoy a gaming session on your phone while on the go.
Online casinos offer many different bonuses and promotions, unlike regular venues. To boost your bankroll you can claim a casino welcome bonus or a no deposit bonus, among many other offers. Of course, you can claim more than one, too.
Most online casinos nowadays offer Pai Gow Poker and other casino games for absolutely free. Sometimes you don’t even need to register. This is a great way to practice first before committing with real money.
When you play Pai Gow Poker in a real money casino you will also win actual cash. Moreover, a lot of the available payment methods at online casinos offer instant payouts. So not only do you get to have fun but make a profit as well.
Pai Gow Poker may is a popular game variant where you get to play against the banker. The rules are quite simple to follow and the favorable house edge of 2.6% alone is worth it. Besides, you can apply different strategies to increase your chances of winning in Pai Gow Poker. So now that you know how to play, all you need to do is find a great online casino in the Philippines. Check out our casino reviews to find the best match for you.
This is a poker variation that is played against the banker and with a deck of 52 cards.
Yes, it is totally safe. Online games use random number generator software to determine the outcomes.
Yes, there are downloadable mobile apps that are compatible with Android and iOS devices.
Yes, there are strategies you can apply to increase your chances of winning.
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